McKinney Rogers Keeps Products and Profits Flowing During Political Upheaval

This company is one of Africa’s leading businesses, with an outstanding collection of brands.

The group delivers a diverse range of high quality brands to African consumers and long-term value to investors.

From December of 2007 until April of 2008 approximately 1,500 people were killed and 600,000 were displaced in Kenya following the disputed presidential elections.

Earlier in July of 2007 when the directors and managers of one of Africa’s leading businesses met to determine business strategy for the next 12 months, nobody imagined that the country would be plunged into political instability and a violent revolt that would last several months. Kenya had always been considered a politically stable country, so on December 27th the country was braced for a close Presidential election, but nothing more.

During a 2007 meeting with McKinney Rogers the company had conducted Operational Rehearsal, a product designed by McKinney Rogers to analyze factors impacting the market, competitive threats, likely developments, and see how they might affect the business. Based on this analysis, plans were put in place to protect the company’s position, or exploit opportunities that might arise.
Operational Rehearsal

Operational Rehearsal consists of a sophisticated exercise where members of the organization and senior members of McKinney Rogers are assigned roles within three categories: the business strategy group; the environment (government, demographic, and other external, impacting forces); and the competition. Leveraging technology and experience, the organization works through every possible scenario and outcome.

Participants are divided into three teams each representing the categories above, and sequestered at different locations. They are wired to a virtual network where they input their actions in real-time, which are then judged by the software and business execution professional referees who, together with opposing teams, respond with the resulting outcomes for the scenarios. Time is compressed so that one hour represents one month. The sessions are conducted in six-hour segments with a break after each hour to analyze the outcome for the previous month.

Operational Rehearsal enables organizations to plan for a world of strategic shock. At the same time, it positions organizations to leverage unforeseen opportunities. Operational Rehearsal is profoundly effective in preparing companies for all possible scenarios ensuring that a plan is in place for every contingency.

During this process, political turbulence spilling over into social unrest was discussed as a “wild card” scenario. The more this scenario was researched, the more the management and McKinney Rogers became convinced it was a possibility. The client’s main production site is in a capital city, and every day trucks loaded with hundreds of cases to distribute throughout the country. Any breakdown in law and order would seriously disrupt distribution. McKinney Rogers and the participants of the Operational Rehearsal looked at how they could continue to keep the business moving and devised actions to ensure that consumers could get their products, if their worst fears of civil unrest became a reality.

Neighborhood Outlets

Success revolved around addressing one key question: although logistical planning can overcome the problem of getting the product distributed to outlets, how do you sell the product if people are too scared to leave their homes?

A contingency plan was built around the premise that when people are afraid they stay close to friends and neighbors: people they can trust. People may still want to buy the company’s brand, but they do not want to leave their neighborhood to get it. This premise led to the concept of “neighborhood outlets.” Individuals in certain streets were approached to open up their living rooms or front porches and sell the clients products in a safe environment.

A contingency committee made-up of the Directors of Supply Chain, Human Resources, Sales, Risk Management and Security, “role-played” the execution of the strategy to address any unforeseen problems using McKinney Rogers’s Operational Rehearsal model. This process identified the need for small distribution points to be established to get brands into key positions from which it could be quickly moved to these new “outlets.”

The situation was monitored from December 26th to spot signals of the anticipated unrest. Once the Sales Director realized that the planned-for scenario was imminent, he sent a simultaneous text message to everyone involved to initiate the Neighborhood Outlet contingency plan.
Usually in a crisis the initial reaction is shock, which reduces an individual’s ability to perceive situations clearly and slows reaction time, but due to the plan developed during Operational Rehearsal, the consumer products company was able to calmly initiate the “Neighborhood Outlet” contingency plan, the moment the planned-for scenario seemed imminent.

Ultimately, this company was the least disrupted business in its category during the Kenyan presidential election and its aftermath. When speaking to present the half-year results for the period ending December 31, 2008, the Group MD said, “Despite the difficult business environment that we faced across the region, I am pleased to announce that we grew our volumes by 8% and our net sales by 12%. Thanks to our partnership with McKinney Rogers we were able to manage this exceptional situation; I am convinced that our solid strategy, methodology and plans were our key assets to successfully overcoming the political storm.” This praise was reinforced by the Groups Finance Director who added, “McKinney Rogers was present before, during and after the crisis. They helped us to keep moving forward and stick to our strategy.”